Great Performance in Bears History

It's a Thanksgiving tradition that's as commonplace as turkey with all the trimmings -- NFL football in Detroit and Dallas. <P> The Bears typically find themselves at home for this holiday, but every so often they do get invited to Motown or the city that J.R. Ewing made famous for Thanksgiving dinner, NFL style.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1980 (November 27, to be exact) the Bears visited their Central Division rival, which had a one-game lead over Minnesota for top spot in the division.

For the first three quarters, the Bears were getting roasted like turkeys by Detroit in front of a national audience. The Lions' defensive line got good penetration on Bear linemen and made life miserable for young quarterback Vince Evans. At quarter's end, the Lions held a commanding 17-3 advantage, with the Bears' only points coming on a Bob Thomas field goal.

Despite the score, Walter Payton was starting to simmer. Held to 13 first-half yards, Payton churned out some big yardage after the break. One of his runs -- a 19-yard burst -- paved the way for an Evans-to-Bob Fisher 20-yard TD pass early in the fourth quarter that pulled the Bears to within a touchdown of Detroit (17-10).

That set the stage for one of the most dramatic finishes in Bears history.

Starting from their own 6-yard line late in the fourth quarter, Evans directed the Bears downfield. When he wasn't handing off to Payton (123 yards) for yardage, he was scrambling for it. In between, he connected with fleet-footed wideout James Scott for crucial gains.

Finally, Evans capped the drive with a 4-yard TD scramble with no time remaining. Thomas nailed the extra point, and the proceedings went to overtime.

The Bears won the coin toss as punter Bob Parsons called tails ("I just don't like heads," he explained to the Chicago Tribune afterward). They elected to receive.

Enter Dave Williams.

Williams played fullback for the Bears in 1979 and had over 700 all-purpose yards, but saw himself relegated to a reserve role as Roland Harper burst onto the scene. However, Williams became Chicago's main kickoff return man, and the Bears sent him deep to take the kickoff from Detroit's Eddie Murray.

No. 22 lowered his head as he took the ball at the 5. He cut to his left and saw a wall of Bears in front of him. Those blockers effectively walled off Detroit's contain men, and Williams was off to the races.

There would be no second helpings for the Lions this Thanksgiving. Williams stunned the over 75,000 in attendance at the Pontiac Silverdome as he took it 95 yards to the house, giving the Bears a 23-17 victory just 21 seconds into overtime.


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